Protect the Health and Safety of Americans in Public Health Emergencies
HHS continues to improve the Nation’s ability to address the health, public health, and human services impacts of large-scale disasters and emergencies. HHS provides technical assistance, subject matter expertise, and direct program services to help states, tribes, territories, local communities, and other countries prepare for, respond to, and rapidly recover from disasters and emergencies. HHS has developed a National Health Security Strategy to guide efforts to address the current gaps in national, state, local, and tribal preparedness and response capabilities as well as to build and foster more resilient communities and individuals. HHS is establishing a comprehensive model for human services disaster planning, and continuing its work to prepare for, and respond to, international public health emergencies.
- Foster Informed, Empowered Individuals and Communities
HHS supports community empowerment in preparation for and during emergencies by assisting with efforts to develop community plans, building community capabilities for shelter, maintaining food, providing medical care and other services, and promoting active community engagement in local decision-making. HHS, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), administers the Federal Disaster Case Management Program to create a coordinated system which enables an individual or family to receive support after a Presidentially declared disaster through a single point of contact for a wide variety of services provided by different organizations.
- Support Preparedness and Response Efforts
HHS is promoting efforts to develop a strong, well-trained workforce ready to provide an effective response to disasters and emergencies. HHS is working to improve health care providers’ ability to respond to mass care situations while ensuring provision of the highest standard of care possible for the greatest number of patients. HHS is helping the public understand how they can care for themselves during an emergency, thus reducing demands on health care providers and ensuring that resources are invested where they are most needed. HHS is promoting an effective system for developing, manufacturing, and dispensing drugs, devices, and medical supplies for use in response to public health emergencies, as well as strategies for quickly obtaining scarce resources such as blood and other items that cannot be stockpiled. HHS is encouraging information sharing, surveillance, and coordinated action to reduce the emerging threats from common pathogens in our food, water, biologicals (blood, organs, tissue and vaccines), and air. HHS is working to improve communications across all sectors, from government emergency response systems to private sector and community-based organizations, especially with underserved populations, such as those with limited English proficiency and individuals with disabilities.
- Support Recovery Efforts
HHS actively supports the development of preparedness plans and community resilience before disaster strikes, in order to help communities recover successfully. To support recovery needs in a better, more coordinated way, the federal government worked with state, local, tribal, and territory agencies, non-government organizations and private industry to craft a National Disaster Recovery Framework led by FEMA. The framework recommends roles and activities for everyone involved in recovery including government agencies, non-government organizations, private businesses, and families. HHS’s role is to coordinate federal agencies that can help local, state and tribal agencies restore public health, behavioral health, health care systems, and social services networks during and after emergencies.
- Develop and Implement Evidence-based Strategies for Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
HHS is working to ensure that all systems that support national health security are based upon the best available science, evaluation, and quality improvement methods. HHS is developing a research and evaluation agenda to support identification of standards, policy, and guidance to increase the knowledge base for preparedness, response, and recovery.
- Work with Cross-Border and Global Partners to Enhance National and Global Health Security
HHS is working closely with global partners to address common threats around the world, enhance national capacities to detect and respond to these threats, and learn from each other’s experiences. When called on for help, HHS, acting in concert with other U.S. Government agencies, mobilizes and supports an immediate health-sector response to international outbreaks and public health emergencies. During and after international emergencies, HHS provides a wealth of scientific and technical expertise and international experience to investigate outbreaks, and to treat the sick and injured. HHS is collaborating with international partners to develop best practices and guidelines for responding to natural and man-made disasters, including a focus on improved coordination and response practices.
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